What Ezekiel Elliott said in his first interview as a Patriot

Patriots

“This is definitely a team that wants to run the ball and wants to be balanced.”

New England Patriots running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) walks on the field during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the New England Patriots Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Green Bay, Wis.
Ezekiel Elliott has appeared in three practices with the Patriots so far. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

After taking part in his third practice with New England — and first in Foxborough — on Tuesday, new running back Ezekiel Elliott held his first interview as a Patriot.

In a brief chat with Patriots team reporter Tamara Brown, Elliott acknowledged that the early returns have been positive for him with his new team, especially as he starts building a rapport with fellow running back Rhamondre Stevenson.

“Been at home for a while — feels good to get back to ball, get out there, get on the field and play the game I love. … It’s been a lot of fun,” Elliott told Brown. “I’ve been getting along well with the team. I’ve known Rhamondre for a couple years, so it’s nice having him in the running back room. I think I’ve been a good fit and I’m having fun.”

Stevenson will likely remain as New England’s top option at running back, but the 28-year-old Elliott should serve a key role as the team’s primary backup option.

Even though injuries have sapped some of the explosiveness found during Elliott’s prime tenure with the Cowboys, he was still effective in what was considered a down year by his lofty standards last season.

Elliott still managed to score 12 touchdowns in 2022 with Dallas, with seven of those scores coming from the 1-yard line. As New England looks to monitor Stevenson’s workload, Elliott will likely be called on for punishing short-yardage and goal-line situations.

When you factor in Elliott’s pass-catching capabilities (57.5 receptions per season from 2018-21) and his reputation as one of the better pass-blocking running backs in the league, Elliott’s wide range of strengths out on the field should cater well to a Patriots roster that values versatility.

“The importance of the back in this offense,” Elliott said of the appeal of singing with New England. “This is definitely a team that wants to run the ball and wants to be balanced.”

With just three full practices under his belt, Elliott still has some catching up to do as he looks to establish himself as a 1-2 punch in the trenches with Stevenson. But so far, Elliott has been impressed with what he’s seen from his new quarterback in Mac Jones.

During Tuesday’s practice in Foxborough, Elliott reeled in a pair of passes from Jones and another off of a throw from Bailey Zappe.

“Mac’s a pro, man,” Elliott said of Jones. “He does everything like a pro. I could tell just from going to dinner with him on my visit. He’s a great leader.”

Despite his brief time in New England, Elliott’s ability to dice up opposing defenses in a variety of ways has put some his new teammates on notice. 

“When you have a running back that’s able to go in the game and primarily you’re thinking ‘OK, he’s a downhill runner. He’s a bruiser.’ Then you split him out wide and you find out that he’s able to run routes at a high level, it makes the game that much harder,” safety Adrian Phillips said of Elliott. “Just to call it, because sometimes he might be matched up with a linebacker and you say ‘OK, that’s not the best matchup that we want.’

“So now you might have to spin the whole scheme around just to make sure that we have him covered the right way. So his ability to be able to go out there at the one position, two position, and be able to run good routes, it ain’t going to do nothing but help our offense.”


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